Occupying and expanding on a series of brick buildings on the site that formerly housed a power station, the Yongchun Vinegar Sightseeing Factory was designed to connect visitors to the "intangible cultural heritage" of hand-brewed red vinegar.
"We hope the unique factory will not only balances production and tourism, but also let visitors fully experience the production process of red vinegar and deeply feel the fascination of vinegar fermentation," explained the studio.
"At the same time, visitors are also expected to observe the innovation of the intangible cultural heritage of red vinegar," it continued.
With limited space, Lel Design Studio worked closely with fermentation engineers to create two primary routes on the site – a production route and a visitor route – that were carefully positioned so as not to disrupt one another.
The visitor route begins in front of the factory, where a space named the Ancient Brewing Square was filled with giant storage jars of fermenting vinegar.
Overlooking this square is a concrete walkway raised on steel columns, with information panels explaining the brewing process to visitors sheltered beneath a steel canopy.
The raised walkways leads from the square into a low-slung building with a sloping steel-framed roof informed by the traditional architecture of Yongchun, which contains the traditional brewing spaces.
Wrapped by a stone wall, the large fermentation space was surrounded by glazing to give visitors a view of the process, with high-level transom windows that can used to closely control the internal temperature.
Alongside, an existing concrete-framed brick building houses more modern brewing spaces, with the tourist route continuing along a black metal walkway that wraps around the chimney.
Granite bricks sourced from the surrounding Fuijian province were used for the new buildings, contrasted with glass and steel intended to reflect the idea of a "modern factory rooted in tradition".
"The design uses a simple natural granite wall throughout the touring route, and by guiding and limiting the viewer's sight, it offers a spatial experience similar to walking through a classical Chinese garden or art gallery," explained the studio.
"The design creates a continuous, immersive, and pure atmosphere, enhancing the visitors’ perception of the natural and rustic qualities of red vinegar."
Elsewhere, Chinese practice JSPA Design took a similar approach to blending private factory spaces with public areas in their design for the Ningwu Oatmeal Factory in Shanxi province.
The photography is by Qingyan Zhu.